China's experimental space lab to re-enter atmosphere on July 19
Beijing: China's experimental space lab Tiangong-2 is expected to leave orbit and re-enter the atmosphere on July 19, China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) announced on Saturday. Most of the spacecraft will be burnt up in the atmosphere, and a small amount of debris is expected to fall in the safe sea area in the South Pacific, CMSEO, which manages China's human spaceflight endeavours, said.
Tiangong-2, an improved version of Tiangong-1, is China's first space lab in real sense. It was launched on September 15, 2016 to test advanced life support and refueling and resupply capabilities via the crewed Shenzhou-11 and uncrewed Tianzhou-1 cargo missions, in preparation for constructing a large, modular space station in low Earth orbit.
China plans to launch a permanent space station by 2022. The space lab has worked in orbit over 1,000 days, much longer than its two-year designed life. Comprising an experiment module and a resource module, Tiangong-2 has a total length of 10.4 metre, a largest diameter of 3.35 metre and a take-off weight of 8.6 tonnes.
All the experiments in the space lab have been completed. The spacecraft and the instruments on it are functioning well, CMSEO said. Preparations for the controlled re-entry into atmosphere of Tiangong-2 are proceeding steadily as planned, it said.